North Korea Freedom Week, the 8th annual week-long event, was held on April 5 through May 1. This is the second year that this event, that first took place in Washington, D. C., is being held in Seoul, Korea. The person leading this cause is Suzanne Scholte, a western woman dubbed the blue-eyed angel, who had been advocating for North Korea human rights movement for over 2 decades.
It was in 2008 that Suzanne Scholte first gained wide recognition among Koreans. She was awarded the prestigious Seoul Peace prize on October 7, 2009 at its 9th Award Ceremony, and just a few days later, on October 13, Scholte earned an honorary doctor’s degree of education from Kosin University.
Suzanne Scholte’s involvement on North Korea human rights issues dates back to 1989 when she first served as the president of Defense Forum Foundation. She also served as the president of North Korea Freedom Coalition and was on the board of directors for Christian Solidarity Worldwide. She is the current president of the Defense Forum Foundation.
Suzanne Scholte’s involvement on issues of freedom, democracy, and human rights led to her personally meeting with refugees from other totalitarian states- Soviet Union, Cuba, and China- besides North Korea. In 1996, she requested that the South Korean government allow some North Korean defectors to visit the U.S. Next year, in 1997, Ko Young-hwan, an ex-NK diplomat and Choi Joo-hwal, an ex-colonel of NK army, were granted visit to America. In 1999, Kang Chul-hwan and Lee Soon-ok, survivors of brutal North Korean concentration camps arrived in U.S., followed by Hwang Jang-yop, former international secretary of the NK in year 2003. Suzanne Scholte played the vital role of arranging meetings between the refugees andmembers of the U.S. Congress.
In 2004, as the acting president of North Korea Freedom Coalition, Scholte mobilized the North Korea Freedom Day in Washington, D.C. to push for the passage of North Korea Human Rights Act in Congress. Thenceforth, every year, a week of April (last week of the month) has been designated internationally in honor of NK human rights, namely the North Korea Freedom Week. For five years since its inception, North Korea Freedom Week was held annually in Washington, D.C., attended by U.S. Congressmen, Korean-Americans, and North Korean refugees. Since last year, this event has been moved to Seoul; in fact, we celebrated this event just a few days ago.
Her unwavering commitment for North Korean human rights issues was the engine behind the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act of 2004 in U.S. She has now shifted her focus to the enactment of this same act in South Korea. She has been actively campaigning for this cause this year, participating in NK events, attending prayer meetings, lecturing and delivering messages of hope. NK refugees were especially moved by her sincerity and heart for the suffering people of North Korea.
Suzanne Scholte’s concern and activism extends beyond North Korean issues, however. She raised the concern to the UN General Assembly over refugees of Western Sahara whose people are afflicted by Moroccan occupation of their land by up to 90%. It seems Suzanne Scholte will continue to fight for the cause of human rights for as long as there’s oppression, for as long as she lives.
We would like to express our deep respect for her dedication in her fight for North Korean democracy and freedom for its people. We applaud her and her endeavors knowing that her work will not be in vain, but will bear multiple fruits. We, too, eagerly anticipate for the enactment of North Korea Human Rights Act at the National Assembly in the South, so that someday soon, the North Korean people will see the end of suppression and suffering and know that there is better future for them and their children.
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